Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday - Pictures That Captured my Joy This week

Just a quick post today - one that I am actually putting together on my lunch break!
I pulled all of these pictures off of my phone and each and every one has helped me remember something that made me smile during the past week.
Number 1 :  Picking up my non-fat, decaf, skinny vanilla latte at the Starbucks Drive-thru and having my name spelled perfectly on the cup.  This NEVER happens!!
Number 2 : Starting a new stitching project as a reminder of our days in Paris last summer.  I bought the pattern from this little Etsy shop and I already look forward to stitching London and New York when I have completed my Parisian scene.
If you haven't tried them, you need to do so. Now. 
Number 4 : Sunshine and Snowman mugs - in three successive sizes, 2 boys and 1 girl.  They couldn't be any more perfect for my 3 little ones!  (Thank-you Target.)

Number 5 :  Coffee breaks.  I took a couple yesterday when I was home with an ailing 10-year old.  He could barely eat, so I filled in for him!  Made some yummy Banana Oatmeal Bread and pared it with creamy coffee whenever I could. 

Thanks for popping by today.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend. 
 My sister is visiting and I am hoping to include her in some kind of family adventure tomorrow. 
I'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five Photos That Gave Me Joy This Week

My life can feel very busy.  I have three small children, an active  husband, a full-time job teaching kindergarten and a home to take of.
I constantly need reminders to stand still and enjoy the pleasant moments that seem to pop up every once in awhile during the flurry of the day.  
I find my camera is the best tool I own to aid in slowing me down and helping me recognize the sweetest instances of life.

Here are a few images captured this week as I enjoyed my family, home and life:
1.  A photo from my phone captured at a visit to a children's museum with just my youngest son.  I was able to give him tons of one-on-one attention (which he craves!) while at the same time learning about an ancient civilization that has attracted me forever!

2. This time my camera grabbed an image that seems "summery" even though we are dealing with nearly 2 feet of snow here near Toronto.  I am beginning a new crochet project and I have completed 4 squares towards a blanket that will capture the colours of our recent trip to France.  More on this to follow....

3.  I know this photo will make me smile decades from now.  The other day before school, my two boys emerged from their rooms wearing the same adorable monster shirt.  I thought for sure my oldest son (who is 10) would have turned around and gone back into his room and changed his shirt upon seeing his little brother wearing the same one.   But nope.  Big brother Bryn simply said, "It's fine we are wearing the same clothes, Camden.  It means we can be COOL together!"
(Proud Mommy moment!)

4. Came home to these hanging off of our roof today. Some of them are about 2 feet long!  They look so pretty and remind me of the ones that used to hang off of our barn when I was a child.  These are too far up for my kids to grab and lick, but they did enjoy seeing the "fringe" that had been added to their otherwise plain house!

5.  A travel planning picture!  My daughter and I are heading to the UK in 3 weeks!   We have made some firm plans like tea at Fortmun and Mason, but a lot of our week will be decided according to weather and what strikes our fancy at the time.  This is my 5th visit to London and I never tire of it!!
And after the UK, my hubby and I head off to Italy for 2 weeks in July.  We are doing a Trafalgar Tour and love the fact that other people will be taking care of us for a change! We have been reading up on the towns and cities we will be visiting and we are so excited to eat some real Italian food!

My five moments - I hope you enjoyed them!  
Much love to all,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Normandy 2014 : A Day Out in Bayeux

Before I take you on a tour of Bayeux, please take a minute to get yourself acquainted with the beginning of our family's little trip to France during the summer of 2014.
If you would like  to read about our first few days in France, discovering the excitement of Paris with our 3 children, please visit here.
And click here  to see some pretty pictures and read all about our gorgeous historic rental home in Vire, Normandy.
Now onto Bayeux!
After getting settled into our rental home in Normandy for about 24 hours,  our first travel day took us to the lovely nearby city of Bayeux.
 Of course, our first priority was to visit the 1000 year-old  tapestry that famously tells the story of how William the Conqueror defeated the Anglo-Saxons in 1066.
We viewed the 70 metre embroidery with the aid of some "1066 cell-phones" that told us the story of the events leading up to the great battle as we walked the long u-shaped halls past the hand-stitched images. 
The kids referred to the cloth as the first "comic strip" and found a lot of excitement in the images and the storyline.   

A horse image from the Tapestry and  the man of the hour himself, William the Conqueror.
Before making our way to our next museum stop, we took some time to check the cute little central town of Bayeux. 
This little café sat beside the river's edge. 

Even though it serves no purpose to pump water for the nearby mill, this waterwheel added a lot of ambience to a pretty lane near the Tapestry Museum.

We found this beautiful old building on one of the commercial streets in the old downtown core.   D-Day events had just completed during the previous month so there were still many decorations honouring  the soldiers from Canada, Great Britain and the US  who had fought and won back France's freedom in 1944. 

Our next stop was the "Battle of Normandy Museum." The boys, including my husband, Kevin, really wanted to see tanks and this museum didn't disappoint.   
Even though our 2 sons found these tanks  extremely "cool," we constantly reminded them of why tanks were built and how they really are killing machines, created to wage war and keep peace. 
Seeing these large machines, parked in a field in a pretty little town does not make a clear picture of how things would really be during an actual battle.  Hopefully by the end of our trip, our whole family will see and understand  the battles of WWII at  a whole new level!

And before leaving the museum, the whole family took time to remember. 
Walking back into town, we came across a field of cows.  In the middle of town.  With busy roads screaming by on either side.   Theses bovines seemed very out of place! 
Kevin was glad to find a "Chaumiere," where he bought several Euros worth of smoked meat and cheese. Mmmm.....
And then the rain came! And did it ever pour!
It didn't break our spirits though. Onward and upward!
Umm....could I move in please? 

 Afterwards we learned this place was a hotel.  And for a few hundred Euro a night we could stay here for a few days.  Maybe next time.....
Next up - Bayeux Cathedral. I love these two pictures below.
The one the left shows the church surrounded by grey skies just before the rain began.  Then on the right, the blue skies one hour later. It gives the church a whole different feeling doesn't it??
Aren't the red doors on the front façade eye-catchingly lovely?

This was Camden's MO on this trip.  He would be as happy as a clam everywhere we went, but as soon as I wanted a cute photo of the three kids together, he would go all grumpy on me!

I LOVE early medieval gargoyles and stone tracery!!
And now inside the Cathedral:
My other love- mosaic floors!

These windows aren't too shabby either!

At this point on the trip, the children had only seen 2 Gothic cathedrals - Notre Dame in Paris and this church in Bayeux.  It was amazing how they were already drawing comparisons between the 2 buildings. 
"The windows were bigger in Paris, Mom."
"The walls here have a lot more bumps."
"I see more texture here, Mommy!"
"This one's a lot less serious. More sunny. Look at that funny man. I could have fun here."

From the mouths of babes.....
And really, isn't that why we brought them along in the first place? 

Oh Bayeux.  Such a pretty town.
I wish I could have spent a bit longer discovering your back roads and your connection to other phases of history.
But there was so much to see in our little part of France.  And we only had 2 weeks living there. 
Au revoir, Bayeux. 
Next up - Rennes (in northern Brittany!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

You May Gain 20 lbs Just Reading This!! - Sabletine Patisserie

Last weekend, Afton and I needed a "girls day out" so we headed to a nearby city for some shopping and lunch.
I had found   Sabletine Patisserie while searching through Trip Advisor and thought it would make a perfect stop for a delicious lunch for Afton and I.  
This is what greeted us as we walked in the door:

And these:

Oh! And these too:

Before choosing dessert, I required Afton to choose something to eat as a main course first, then she could indulge in something sweet and caloric for afters!

After ordering, we headed into the tearoom where we sat in the window admiring the tissue paper flowers, stars and snowflakes. 

Yep.  This is definitely our kind of place!

Within minutes, lunch arrived at our table- freshly warmed and smelling absolutely wonderful.
Afton had chosen a pizza-like dish that was basically cheese and grilled veg on top of a crispy pastry base.

I had a pastry-crusted quiche with cheese, red peppers and chicken. On the side, I enjoyed a wheatberry Waldorf salad containing dried cranberries, apple slices and pears.  Oh so good!

After returning to the glass display cases and choosing our  desserts, we ordered a couple of  mini-pots of tea and sipped them slowly while we watched the world go by on the street outside.  

The wallpaper caught Afton's eye while we waited, too.
She is definitely her mother's daughter.  Flowery swirls created in pink and silver are undoubtedly my cup of tea, too!

What did Afton choose for her dessert?
If you know anything about my dear, sweet Afton you know that she is a macaron addict!
So today she chose a cassis flavoured one, a chai-spice flavoured one and (not pictured because she ate it so fast!) a cookies and cream one.  
Good choices, I'd say!

What did I choose?
I had something called a Paris Brest.
Never heard of it?  Here's some history:
"A Paris–Brest is a French dessert, made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream.
The pastry was created in 1910 to commemorate the Paris–Brest bicycle race begun in 1891. Its circular shape is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders on the Paris–Brest cycle race, partly because of its energizing high caloric value, and is now found in patisseries all over France."
Historical definition aside - this thing was amazing!!
Look at the cream inside. 
 That was a dessert all on its own! 

Even though I was pretty full even before I started on my dessert, I managed to finish the whole thing  - cream and tasty pastry, before heading for  home - full and completely satisfied!
(Afton wanted to take my picture.  Not a bad shot.
Too bad the macaron picture in the background is so lop-sided!)
Will we go to Sabletine again in the near future?
For sure.  Afton is already craving some more macaron and I could definitely enjoy another flaky pastry and cuppa tea. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's Tobogganning Time!

Yesterday our original plans to visit a museum in a nearby town were foiled by the possibility of freezing rain and dangerous roads. So instead we stayed close to home and hit the hills!

The temperature was just under 0 degrees Celcius, so the day felt balmy and pleasant compared to the freezing cold days we have been dealing with lately!
We bundled the kids up (and dressed ourselves appropriately, too) and walked to a nearby park with hills just big enough to be exciting but not too hard to climb!

Santa Claus brought this three-seater, air-filled toboggan three years ago and it has had tons of use since then. All three kids can easily ride together, or they can take turns doing runs on their own.

This picture (below) makes me chuckle because the boys are playing "Rock, Scissors, Paper" to decide who will go down next.  It took a few rounds before they realized they had to take their mittens off in order to play the game fairly!!

Though the temperatures felt warm, there was little to no sunshine.  However, the world was aglow with the "whiteness" of it all - even Camden's freckles seem to be amplified!

Kevin joined in to the sliding right away while I stood back and acted as chief photographer.  The kids love how much speed Daddy's push-offs add to each ride!
Before long I handed the camera to Kevin  and I, too, took to the hill. 
I had a good run with each of the kids and loved every minute of it!! 

More snow fell today, leaving a fresh coating on our favourite hill.  The kids are already asking if we can sled again tomorrow after school. 
I don't see why not? 
 It gets us outside, it's good exercise and it is a ton of FUN!!
Come back soon!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Stitched With Love - A Bowlful of Hearts

Monday was a very snowy day - too cold to go outside! In fact, too much snow to safely get to school and work, too.
So it was a
Monday was our first day home from school because of the weather in over 5 years!!
The schools around here never close, so the kids, hubby and I (who are both teachers!) always have to drag ourselves through the snow even on the most treacherous of days.
 But not on Monday!  We could officially stay home. 
The morning went by easily - the kids played video games  and watched movies  while Kevin and I caught up on some reading. 
But by the time lunch was over, we heard the dreaded words:
"I'm bored!"

Kevin, bless his heart, challenged the boys to a Jenga tournament and I grabbed our daughter Afton.
What did she want to do?
Excellent.  That works for me.   :)
We grabbed a pile of pretty red and pink fabric and got started.
1.  We created a heart-shaped tracer out of heavy cardboard and traced around it onto double-folded fabric. 

2. We pinned the layers together and hand-stitched along the pencils lines, creating the heart-shape in short little stitches.

Afton is new to stitching of any kind. She worked meticulously to create the smallest little stitches she could!
3. Once the stitching was complete, we use my brand-new pair of pinking shears to cut out each of the hearts, leaving about 1cm of space between the stitching and the edge.

4.  In order to fill the hearts with fluff, we cut a small hole in the back of the heart and carefully stuffed in some polyester fibrefill. Once stuffed, I sewed up the little hole using matching thread, hopefully hiding the opening from the most discerning eyes! :)
And how did Afton feel about our finished project?
She thought they were adorable!
We completed six hearts during our hour-long sewing session. Pretty in pink and red and perfect for Valentine's Day.

Our little hearts have already changed location several times and been part of a variety of imagined games.
  They've been pillows for Barbie and part of a Roman wall designed and built by Camden.

Perfect.  They are pretty indestructible and if they encourage imaginative play, I am all for it!!
Thanks for popping by!